About Comanche Pottery

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The Comanche Indians were a fierce, nomadic tribe known for their use of horses to spread and control their domination of southern Colorado, southern Kansas, Oklahoma, northwest and central Texas, and eastern New Mexico. Considered perhaps the most nomadic of all Native American tribes, the Comanche had few possessions and Comanche pottery and arts and crafts were almost non-existent.

History

  • An offshoot of the Northern Shoshone tribe of the western United States, the Comanche Indians were introduced to horses at some point in the late 1600s. Horses enabled the Comanche to migrate south to find large herds of buffalo, their primary source of food, shelter and clothing. The Comanche Indians of Texas were able to prosper in part due to their excellent skills as traders, exchanging horses, prisoners and items fashioned from buffalo for food and manufactured items like guns.

Features

  • Since the Comanche were always on the move searching for buffalo, the tribe never developed much in the way of crafts and artwork, like more settled tribes often did. There are no known remnants of any unique Comanche pottery or basketry.
    Before the introduction of the horse the Comanche used dogs pulling sleds to carry their possessions when they moved to a new campsite. Usually these possessions only consisted of the family's tipi and basic necessities. Pottery was very heavy and easily breakable, so it was not practical for such a highly mobile tribe as the Comanche.

Effects

  • Since Comanche pottery was non-existent and not functional for the tribe, the Comanche used buffalo products to serve much the same purpose as pottery. Instead of using pottery to cook in, the Comanche women stretched out the lining of the buffalo's stomach and cooked in it just like a pot. Buffalo horns were even fashioned into primitive eating utensils. Later, when the Comanche began to trade with the Spanish, they acquired metal pots to cook in.
    While traveling so frequently the Comanche needed to store what little they did have in lightweight, unbreakable containers. Bags were often fashioned out of tanned buffalo hides to serve this purpose.

Significance

  • The buffalo was of tantamount significance to the Comanche Indians. Not only was buffalo skin and other buffalo by-products used in place of pottery to cook in and store items in, but the buffalo itself was also the primary source of food, clothing and shelter for the tribe.

Theories/Speculation

  • Most historians believe that settled tribes living in permanent villages were able to have more developed religions, arts and crafts like pottery, and societal organization than nomadic tribes like the Comanche. Since the Comanche was a tribe constantly on the move, more so perhaps than any other tribe, many of the historians and anthropologists that have studied the tribe believe that Comanche culture was unable to take root and flourish like in sedentary tribes. Much of Comanche culture, certainly evidenced in the lack of Comanche pottery, was completely governed by the nomadic, warring nature of the tribe.

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